Culture, Lifestyle

Living on the Island and Nigerians’ warped definition of quality of life.

So, I find myself moving to the ‘Island.’

I enjoy going to the Island now and then but never fancied living in that neck of the woods. I’d lived all my years on the ‘Mainland’. I love it there. Life is simple, inexpensive and less vainglorious. In contrast, I esteemed the Island as extortionate, bougie and full of affectation. But I don’t beef the place or the people. I’ve got peeps who live there. You do you and I’ll do me. Horses for courses.

Then Island people started denigrating the Mainland. They created a condescending dichotomy. They were the bourgeois. We were the place Mufasa warned Simba never to go – a sunless, joyless land. We became the ‘Mainland people.’

Mainland people? You hypocrites! Many of you sprouted from the Mainland, some of you from places like Akute-Alagbole, Oke-Koto, Cemetery or Abaranje. Now your bougie butts no longer ‘do bridges’? You pharisaical faux-elite gits!

I was wroth indeed.

So, a silent war ensued between us the Mainlanders and they the Islanders. A war whose chief weapons were snide remarks and deprecation. They speak in a patronising manner about the Mainland and we in turn tell them to return to Atlantis. Naturally, as a Mainland boy, I took sides with my kith and kin in the war. Forza Mainland!

But here I am, now living on the Island. I sold out.

Now, before some of you think I have come into money and want a rummage in my pocket, no, I have not stumbled on some lucre. I moved to the Island for a practical reason; I simply could not afford a house on the Mainland in the areas I liked. I lived in Omole Phase 1, a very nice gated community. The houses are well-spaced. That means you can’t extend your hand from your window to help your neighbour unhook her bra. And we enjoyed at least twenty-one hours of power at N80/kilowatt.

But a four-bedroom semi-detached duplex in Omole Phase 1 is upwards of N250m. I don’t have that sort of moolah. The other nice places I’d prefer to live were Magodo Phase 2, Ikeja GRA and Shonibare Estate. But those places cost a king’s ransom. Properties in those areas will set you back some N400m to N600m.

So, yeah. I moved to the island because I haven’t got quite enough dosh to be posh and have less dough than a Pizza Hut.

But isn’t it ironic? How houses on the much-maligned Mainland can be more expensive than houses on the Island?

Oh, lest I forget. There is an important bifurcation to make. There are people who live ‘on an island’ and people who live ‘on the Island.’ I’ll explain.

See, if you don’t live in Ikoyi, Banana Island, Victoria Island or Lekki Phase 1, you don’t live ‘on the Island.’ You live ‘on an island.’ Don’t let’s pack luru with shapa.

Now, if you live between Marwa and Chisco, an area encompassing Elf, Ikate, Chisco, Ilasan and Salem, you live on an island. You are the broke cousin of Mayweather. You are still a Mayweather and can be ringside. But you are not Floyd.

Hang tight. It gets dire.

If you live at Igbokusu, Jakande First Gate, Jakande Round-About, Ologolo, Agungi, Igbo-Efon, Orchid, Idado and Chevron, your residency in Lagos is tenuous. You need to verify your bona fides with LASRRA.

Igbokusu, Ologolo, Agungi, Igbo-Efon, Idado? Really? And some of you have the shamelessness to mock Onipetesi, Oke-Ira, Alakuko, Arepo and Mungoro?

But it gets worse. If you live anywhere between Eleganza, Ikota School, Ikota Bridge, Mega Chicken, Ikota First Gate, Ikota Second Gate, VGC, Ilaje and Ajah, you need to recheck your deed of assignment. They sold you a house in Ondo State.

And suppose for some reason your house happens to be at Ajah, Badore, Okun-Ajah, Sangotedo, Bogije, Abijo, Lakwe, Langbasa or along Ogombo Road; in that case, Nigerian Immigration will need to see your Nigerian visa or passport before you can cross into Ajah. You, my friend, do not live in the Federal Republic. You are to Nigeria what El Paso and Tijuana are to the United States.

Now, before you guys wield your pitchforks and you ladies get on your brooms, know that myself, per my delineation, barely live in Lagos too. All of us are faux big boys together. But that is not to say there are no nice places after Lekki Phase 1. I like the houses and layout in NICON Town, Pinnock Estate, Cowrie Creek Estate, Friends Colony and some estates that dot the Island.

Anyway, I was going to contrast living on the Mainland with living on the Island (make I sha call all of us Islanders bebe). I have lived in this neck of the woods for two months now and have mixed feelings.

One of the vaunted propositions in favour of living on the Island over the Mainland is the former’s purported high quality of life index. On the Island, there are many nice places to go, many nice things to do and many nice companies to keep.

Only nobody told me there were nice prices to pay too.

The Island is soooo expensive!

I can’t have a good meal on the Island without paying upwards of N6,000. And that’s at Foodies or Amala Sky. If it’s at Cafeteria, Cilantro, Eric Kayser or the like, bless your soul, it will be upwards of N14,000. The other day the missus and I went to a Nigerian restaurant in Lekki Phase 1. We ordered what they labelled ‘complete Fisherman Soup’ and pounded yam. The soup alone was N23,000 per person.

Now, people, when a Fisherman Soup costs N23,000 per person, I expect it to contain all the works: a mermaid, a Kraken, the crab in Moana and maybe the fisherman himself. But what did we get? A mediocre catfish, a crab on minimum wage, two punny snails and shrimps that failed prawn test.

God bless Ola-Oluwa Jollof and Amala Amoke.

The pricing on the Island is a mugging. The other day, I bought a pack of Mentos chewing gum at Ebeano in Lekki for N3,450. The same gum was N2,050 at the Ebeano in Ikeja GRA. It was N1,880 at Grand Square Supermarket in Ikeja. I pay N220/kilowatt for electricity that’s not up to thirteen hours. Anini and Monday Osunbor no rob pass this before them face firing squad!

And I don’t want to hear the bunkum about rent and the cost of operation on the Island being higher than on the Mainland. It’s utter tosh. When big retail chains buy goods, they buy in bulk to distribute across their stores. They thus negotiate better pricing from suppliers. This naturally should result in better prices or the same prices for the consumers across their stores. But no, sellers on the Island enjoy bloodletting. They bleed us and collect our blood to drink with their meals.

The reason for this price gouging is because of the vanity on the Island. Island people don’t seem to care about high prices. Dudes and dudettes roll into supermarkets, restaurants and lounges in their Mercedes and Lexuses and strut about as if money is no object.

Not me. You can’t mug me with my permission. Don’t give me Titus egg and call it caviar.

I hear this attitude of suffering and smiling is rife on the Island. According to friends who have lived longer on the Island, the perception is that when you complain about prices, it shows that you can’t afford the lifestyle and maybe shouldn’t be living here.

Una papa!

Look, I know what I spend my money on. I’m more likely to travel to Tromsø to see the northern lights or take the Shinkansen to Kobe to eat wagyu than show I’m doing well by buying overpriced chewing gums.

Besides, it’s all hypocritical codswallop. If all these people can afford the pricey lifestyle, they shouldn’t buy food and groceries from Mushin and Mile 12 markets. Abi them no dey sell goat meat and garri on the Island?

But the condescension on the Mainland is pervasive.

A few years ago, a friend and I were going to buy Coke from a hawker on Water Corporation Drive in Victoria Island. I like those glacial-type Coke that hawkers carry. The woman priced the Coke at N200. We baulked. Coke was N100 on the Mainland at the time. We told the woman we were only going to pay N100. She retorted.

“Eyin ara Mainland ti de O.”

In pidgin, it means “You Mainland people don come be dat O!”

It was unbelievable. Just because we haggled over the price she made us out. She instantly knew we were from the Mainland. Island people don’t haggle over prices.

She sold the Coke to us at N100 with a smile that implied ‘game recognises game.’

And oh yeah, there’s the issue of potable water

At Omole Phase 1, we cook, brush our teeth and do our laundry with the water straight from the tap. We didn’t have to install missile-looking filters in our backyard. We didn’t have to run dialysis for the water with a Reverse Osmosis machine.

My fellow Islanders, that type of water is called potable water. And it runs bounteously on the Mainland. You can drink it if you want. You won’t kick the bucket. But bless your soul if you drink the water straight from your borehole in Lekki. There will be a service of songs for you with sweet puff-puff.

I used to mock a friend who lived on the Island but always brought jerrycans along to my house to fetch water. What ridiculousness! How can you not use the water in your house? You are in Lekki, for Pete’s sake, not Kolokuma-Opokuma.

Now, the joke is on me. While the water coming out of my tap appears clean, I still had to construct a mini Water Works behind my apartment. That Reverse Osmosis machine isn’t cheap. And it requires quarterly servicing.

If this Lekki doesn’t kill me, nothing else will.

Why are there so many urchins and area boys on the Island?

Let me tell you what else is not a high quality of life: the innumerable company of urchins, homeless people and area boys! The place is festering with them! Yes, we have urchins and area boys on the Mainland. But this is ‘the Island.’ It is supposed to be premium! When you live in a premium place abroad, you enjoy peace, quiet and security. Not urchins deluging cars at traffic stops and constituting a menace. My wife has panic attacks when these vermin swarm her car. Freedom Way, Chisco Junction and Jakande First Gate are hotspots. The number is incredible.

When we were moving our stuff to the Island, we had to make provisions for area boys. No mattress or sofa can get into the Island without paying area boys. They man every street and every junction. It’s ridiculous. I’ve never had to contend with such brazen extortion on the Mainland.

The scary thing is that this innumerable company of urchins and area boys live in shanties and abetes that neighbour well-off areas. They are a time bomb. A friend who lives in one of the nicer estates told me that during the END SARS protest, his estate had to contribute money to give to the urchin kingpins, so the urchins and touts would not swarm the estate and loot it. Incredulous!

Traffic congestion

One other thing that has not endeared the Island to me so far is the insufferable traffic. It takes about fifteen minutes for me to get to Victoria Island from my office on the Mainland. But between the Lekki Phase 1 Toll Gate and House On The Rock Church, it’s absolute bedlam. This distance is less than two kilometres but could take you more than thirty minutes. If you live on Orchid Road or drive from Ajah, you’ll be a year older by the time you get into VI. The illusion I had about better traffic on the Island was dispelled. December was harrowing for me.

The result of this traffic has to be overpopulation surely. The inconvenient truth is that the Island is densely populated. The Atlantic is on one side and the lagoon is on the other. It is just a long strip of land crammed with people. From the number of cars I see on the road, there must be five billion people living here.

The Island’s false notion of a high quality of life.

The WHO defines quality of life (QoL) as “an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns.”

Per Wikipedia, standard indicators of quality of life include wealth, employment, the environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, social belonging, religious beliefs, safety, security and freedom.

Perception of high (or low) quality of life is subjective. There are no quantitative measures for it only anecdotal evidence. Thus, the claim that the Island has a higher quality of life than the Mainland is indefensible. What matters to people varies. No doubt the Island knocks the Mainland out of the park in recreation and leisure. It has many fancy restaurants, bars, lounges and beaches. You’ll also find better-paying jobs and opportunities on the Island. But living outside the Island, and even Lagos, can also offer a high quality of life. I’d love to retire to some rural place with lots of green, clean air and no noise. A simple cottage close to a stream, river or ocean. Yam and pepper sauce for breakfast and pounded yam and antelope in the afternoon. Then in the evening, I’ll drive to my homie’s house in my Wrangler Jeep to eat fish peppersoup with half-ripe plantain. That’s a high quality of life for me. But to you, it may be access to a N200K bottle of Casamigos at Quilox or eating a N65K seafood platter. Again horses for courses. But remember, quality of life is subjective.

So, which is better, the Mainland or the Island?

Neither. Both have their merits and disadvantages. I don’t mind living on the Island. I don’t have buyer’s remorse buying a house here. But what I won’t have is you lot deriding and slandering the Mainland. Especially from you broke, fake-bougie ignoramuses still paying rent on the Island. The Mainland rocks. The Island rocks. It all depends on which Dwayne Johnson you like.

Happy New Year folks!

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29 thoughts on “Living on the Island and Nigerians’ warped definition of quality of life.

  1. An-ya says:

    What a captivating piece. Very well written with a touch of humor and lots of sarcasm yet not utterly offensive. An interesting read indeed.

  2. Ibiyemi Ifaturoti says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this! After having lived on the mainland for decades, I had to “relocate” to the Island (btw how do you classify Zion Court?!). The facetiousness sooo spooked me that I packed up and ran. I didn’t stop running until I got to Ibadan, which is a totally different ball game. But at least I no longer suffer from brain fog caused by spending hours in traffic!

  3. Edward says:

    You shattered the vase of Island but the aroma of the Mainland is what is perceived ..How did you do that…Kai I don’t know

  4. Labbssy says:

    This piece hit the nail on the head in quite a hilarious style 😂, and spoke about some of the musings I have had for a while now on this whole Island-Mainland beef.

    I am a born, bred and buttered Yaba babe and it’s always annoying when this Island folks always try to make you feel bad cos you CHOOSE to stay on the Mainland.

    It is quite refreshing to see a breakdown like this that analyses living in either of the two. But Omo! your categorization of ‘In and On the Island’ was something else 🤣.. You better watch your back Jide, they are coming for you.

    Nice one! This is a diversion well needed from having to think about the current insecurity in the country.

  5. Laja says:

    Absolutely loved the write up although I must confess I don’t know most of the communities mentioned in the article . I am a Yaba boy living in Oregun with most of my friends now on the Island .

  6. Kayode Akinyemi says:

    Being a ‘mainlander’ all my life has had a huge impact in my way of life that i feel living off the mainland will be a major culture change for me. Your exposè has once again added power to me feeling.
    Now to your write up, reading your piece was like reading one of the best of a James Hedley Chase books. Couldn’t stop reading as your command of English and narrative prose was top notch.
    What a nice piece.
    Mainlander forever.

  7. Gbemi says:

    I plan to return in six months to leave another comment since you are currently in your probation period 😃

  8. Tope Munis says:

    Your command of the language is extraordinary I must say Perfect wit captured with first-class anecdotes……… This was like having a 5 course meal prepared by a Michelin rated Uberchef……….. It was a wow experience !!!!!!

  9. Omodara Oluwayomi says:

    I laughed so much while reading this. Your writing style is quite captivating. I almost rolled on the floor when I got to the contents of the seafood Okro. Haba, you expected a whole Iyemoja in the soup! You don’t play! Lol 😂

  10. Oriyomi Agbabiaka says:

    Now you’ve just made my wife doubt my sanity…laughing like someone who is a regular at Yaba Apá òsì…. excellent piece. However, truth be told, Island is simply ridiculous. Can you imagine living in V.I (close to Bar-beach) and having to buy water😭😭😭in a property worth over ₦800M??? Absolutely no where like mainland……lived on the true island (Olushi / Isalẹ gángan)for 15+ years and Surulere for 40+ years ….for long life devoid of drama, come back to the mainland….

  11. Kola Oni says:

    Excellent write-up, you captured all the emotions and nuances. Well done. The Island is racier and more vainglorious, I live in Lekki Phase 1 but my preferred addresses are Ikoyi, G.Cappa and Ogudu Ramat.

  12. Adeolu says:

    And you had to mention Igbokusu! That dude that sells water is waiting for you. In my squash playing days, we had an acquaintance who is quick to say he lives in Ikoyi until we asked where and it turns out to be Dolphin Estate. The original Ikoyi residents all chorused “Ikoyi by force!”. Some people are Island by force people. How on earth do you live in Farapark or Igboefon and claim to live in Lekki?!

  13. Sean says:

    …….and you forgot to mention people like us that live in nice Estates in Yaba, just fifteen minutes away from the real island, It’s a breeze in and out of the island!

  14. Solape Adetutu Adeyemi says:

    I love! I’m a writer too but your choice of words and the flow had me laughing, crying and smiling. Maybe we can write something together soon

  15. Banji says:

    As you said, most of us started out on the Mainland. You haven’t chosen your rock because you are still on trial. I give you 6 months, you will swap jersey and going to Ikeja will be like going to Kafanchan.

    Nice write up though.

    • Hey Banji,

      I don’t like comfort zones, so I’ll be visiting Kafanchan every now and then. Hope you live on ‘the Island’ and not on an island.’😁

      Thanks for reading!

  16. Sola says:

    You could not have said it better. I love your writing style.

    I have never been fascinated with their island. I will take my mainland any day any time.

    Like you said, Ikeja GRA, Ogudu GRA, maryland and some other places are way better than those living in Epe calling it island. Anywhere beyond third roundabout is a no no for me.

    You have said it all and in a much better way than I could have. Welldone on the nice piece.

  17. Tunji says:

    This well written and very hilarious as usual. Now you have doused my dream of becoming an “Islander” LOL

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